Introducing a new series with a focus on STEM jobs! The purpose of this series is to look at the fun opportunities the STEM field has, and hopefully entice you to pursue a similar career. This article is about what a roller coaster engineer does, how to become one, and their day-to-day activities!
We all love a day in the amusement park, whether it’s the middle of summer, or during the holiday season in December. A huge part of that experience is going on all the roller coasters possible with their impossible spins, lightning speed, and fun animations. But who designs these roller coasters to ensure that they’re safe and enjoyable?
Roller coaster engineers are responsible for deciding where to place the tracks, picking a roller coaster to fit the environment of the theme park, and ensuring that it is safe to use by the general public. As a roller coaster engineer, you would work with a design team, who are in charge of all the elements it takes to develop a roller coaster: structure, electronics, and layout of the ride. Their number one priority is the safety of the ride, then all the other aspects; the team would work to ensure it is safe by measuring speeds, weights, and forces.
To become a roller coaster engineer you will typically need a bachelor’s degree in electrical, structural, or mechanical engineer. You may also want to consider studying courses such as mathematics and physics. However, the field is competitive so you might want to think about earning a graduate degree in engineering. Roller coaster engineers will also need to obtain a license, which may vary depending on where you live. Often this would comprise of work with a fully-licensed engineer to gain first-hand experience at the job.
A roller coaster engineer’s day-to-day may look a little different. They split their time between sitting behind a desk, working in a lab, and out in the field where the roller coaster would be built. It’s a perfect mix of both worlds - you get to work in an office and out and about at a job site. The current demand for this field is expected to grow 4% over the next decade. In the U.S. roller coaster engineers make approximately $92,800 per year, however, this may be for those with more experience in the field.
Overall, roller coaster engineers get to bring a lot to their jobs, by contributing with creativity logical thinking, and teamwork skills. You get to be in charge of how a roller coaster will function to ensure the thrill and enjoyment of its passengers, and still make sure it is safe to use. Imagine, if you pursue this career, you could be the creator of the next famous ride at Six Flags!
Bestaccreditedcolleges.org, 20 Oct. 2021, www.bestaccreditedcolleges.org/articles/roller-coaster-engineer-job-description-and-education-requirements.html
English, Trevor. “How to Become a Roller Coaster Engineer.” Interesting Engineering, Interesting Engineering, 21 Dec. 2019, www.interestingengineering.com/which-engineering-degree-do-you-need-to-design-roller-coasters
Postlethwait , Hannah. “Stem on: Roller Coaster Engineer.” Institute for Transportation, 22 Sept. 2016, www.intrans.iastate.edu/news/stem-on-roller-coaster-engineer/